SURG.up Day 11 - Some video clips from the first five days after surgery.

Remember to make a post and if you have a camera on your computer, send Nate a video greeting and vote on wheather or not he should shave. (I vote yes, or maybe trim it to a Fu-Manchu?).

Nathan has had an up and down week mainly just trying to keep his pain managed. It is tricky as they use a combination of and epidural, IV, and oral pain medications. For example, Friday Nate's blood pressure dropped to about 70/40. He could not see at all or think clearly. It turned out to be that his epidural was set too high, but it was not apparent to the nurses because of the combination they were using. The surgeon came and recognized the problem. One nurse with a lot of experience said this is the most painful operation to heal from that she knows of. Even open heart does not come with this much pain.



The other significant event was when Maya, an older nurse with 40 years of cardiovascular recovery experience, came and gave Nate a "good talking to". She is an eastern European woman with very strong opinions. She told him to start walking even more and stretch his arms and legs all the time. Even though it might hurt more now, it will make the recovery noticeably quicker. That was the problem we three years ago when he did not know what to expect. He was guarded and afraid to move to much thinking it would damage him more. In fact what we have heard this time around is just the opposite.  This is Superbowl Sunday. As I was posting this his surgeon came by and said that things look good and they will remove the chest tube and epidural today.  He expects to release Nathan Monday.

Thanks for all the visits and comments. I am sure it helps him heal. I hope this blog will help others facing surgery to better understand the healing process and so you can be better prepared. Nate's mother and I will be posting until he able.

Posted by Robert Schmitt

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Surg.up Day 10: Moving On

A quick update on Nathan's status so far.  We arrived around 9AM to check in and he went into surgery around 12:45PM.  We just met with the surgeon (2:30) who reported it went well.  The previous pleurodesis stuck somewhat, but not a lot so that is the reason for the recurrence over the last few years.  This is common with the VATS as they can't see very well with the scope and they can only reach certain areas with it.  They took down the lung, put in some staples at the top, reinflated the lung, and then did the pleurectomy.  He made one cut to the ribs.  He should be moving into recovery and then into the ICU within the next two hours.



They prepped him with the typical IV and an epidural to help manage the pain.  The hard work begins now.  He's well prepared and determined!

Maybe TMI, but for those med student friends out there- this one's for you.

Loraine and Robert

Posted by Loraine Schmitt

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SURG.up Day 9: The Day They Cut my Chest Open...and Other Happy Things Like Music and Movies

Well...it's about that time...

Surgery is tomorrow and I'm as ready as I can possibly be. Of course as they say, you can never fully prepare yourself--I think that's especially true with stuff like this. It's kind of bizarre that I actually have time to think about it this time instead of being caught up in the whirlwind of doctors and nurses, though I'm doing my best to avoid it by getting doing everything I can to get ready both mentally and in the way of supplies etc.

Here's an overview:



I'll be posting lists of all my music, movies, and books as my recovery progresses. Same goes for my physical activity routines and diet as well as their respective logs (the logs will come after I'm pretty much recovered).

Check my Facebook page for my mom's phone number and email address to see when the best time to visit is or to ask how it went. I'll be posting Facebook status updates via my phone when I'm able.

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Posted by Nathan Schmitt

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SURG.up Day 8: Am I Nervous? (Plus a Question You Should Know the Answer to)

By far, the most frequent question I'm asked when I tell people I'm having surgery is, "Are you scared/nervous?" Everyone has different ways of dealing with major life-changing events and as it often happens, last time I didn't have much time between my lung collapse and surgery so I didn't have a ton of time to think about it. This time, I've had about a month of down time.

When I was first asked if I was scared, it kind of surprised me. About 15 seconds ago, this questions struck me as a comical as I realized why it was such a surprise to be asked. My reaction was the same as it would be if I told you I was going to go to Trader Joe's and you asked in all seriousness, "Isn't it scary that you might die in a car crash on your way?"

Obviously these two situation are miles apart, and "Are you nervous?" is certainly a normal reaction to "I'm having open lung surgery." It has to do with psychological state:



No. I'm not talking about suppressing your natural reaction when a major event comes--I have no doubt I'll be nervous the day of surgery. But those times are few and far between and are pretty much ruled by the situation and not in your hands.

For a lot of people, one of the bigger challenges that comes with surgery is the implied overtones of mortality. This isn't really something that bothers me in the way that I think a lot of people imagines it might be some kind of tormenting obsession.

The most I had of that before my last surgery was having this song stuck in my head on repeat with surprising vividness the night before surgery--annoying, but it's a good song. As for after surgery, I didn't really think about anything at all.

They forgot to give me pain medication for a few hours after lung surgery and I had a rather large tube running onto my chest so I was pretty much just...there. I remember them asking me if I could stand up but that was nothing more than background noise. Anyone who's had major surgery probably knows that at that point, it doesn't have much in common with what we think of as pain--it's a completely different sensation altogether.

Anyway, the point is this: we don't get to decide what happens to us, but if you think you're life is sucks because something happened to you that you wish hadn't, remember that you're going to die no matter what happens--and yes, this should make you happy. There's no reason to make yourself miserable, so stop it.

Are you focusing on "What if?" questions, or are you living? And if you're not living, then why are you afraid of dying?

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SURG.up Day 7: Regaining Motivation - A Few Words on Exercise



[Scroll over the white dots on the video status bar to browse through and jump to certain topics---After pressing play]

It can be pretty hard to stay motivated throughout a lengthy surgery recovery. For the past couple of days I've woken up very unmotivated and feeling like my body was made of lead. I had this feeling every day for a few months following my first lung surgery and through trial and error, learned that forcing myself to be active is the best thing I can do. I didn't start making an effort to be active until long after my first surgery and I wish I had much earlier.

It's really not fun at first--it's one of those things that you either don't do or you have to decide, "OK, I'm going to make my body do these physical actions regardless of how slothy and obtuse it feels." It's a way of getting around your body's "I don't want to do this" feeling by telling it, "No problem, I'm not asking you to want to do it, I'm just telling you to do it."

I haven't had this surgery yet, that's coming on Tuesday, but I know that this is something I'll have to use a lot everyday. If you're going through surgery too, yes, I know how hard it is and how much it sucks, but activity is what will help you heal the fastest and in the best way you can. In my Q&A video with my surgeon, he talks about post-op activity and you can find that by clicking here.

[Christina Lent with the Beaverton Valley Times wrote a story on me/my blog that you can find here. It was also published by the Portland Tribune here.]

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Posted by Nathan Schmitt

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